"What was the name of that restaurant, again?"
"Sorry? Oh, The Gilded Something. Platter, I think." Kurapika was distracted, checking a message on his phone, and had fallen a step or so behind. "Senritsu bemoans her womanhood, as the lovely Miss Neon has insisted upon their shopping together."
Leorio angled his head back. "Isn't Miss Neon Nostrad something of a shopping machine?"
"'Something of' is, yes, a mild way of putting it." Kurapika sounded amused. "I've actually never been on one of her excursions, but I've heard stories."
"Poor Senritsu." Leorio slowed to let the Kuruta fall into step beside him. "Shall we bet? Ten says Senritsu appears in something elegant, but pink."
"Oh, I don't gamble." Kurapika waved the wager aside. "Especially not when I know I'll lose. It might not be pink, though," he added as an afterthought. "I wonder if pink is still in?"
"I can't believe you're even wondering. What did they do to you in that estate?" Leorio shook his head. "I thought you were a bodyguard, but all they do is dress you up and bring you to parties. Do the unbelievably rich like showing off that way?"
"When I attend their parties, I'm on duty," Kurapika put in.
Leorio was still talking, though. "Are they like kids showing off new toys? 'Why, look at this blond one I picked up from the country! Comes with his own chains, he does.'"
"Would you stop?"
"And they're so showy. Like this evening, even: bringing us all to a restaurant so expensive that your clothes have to fall into a specific price range before they'll let you in."
"You could do with a new suit," Kurapika pointed out. "A different one, this time. One that speaks 'practitioner' and not 'student,' no?"
"I like my suits," Leorio defended himself. "They're always fashionable and let me make use of my tie collection -- I have a collection, you know -- and besides... no, I shouldn't have to defend my clothes against a guy who wears skirts every day."
It was an old and playful argument. "It's not a skirt. Not *exactly* a skirt," he hastily amended when the other opened his mouth, "and anyway, we aren't talking about my clothes."
"Well, we *should* be. You have anything else like that red outfit? The red outfit was really cool."
"And hardly appropriate for an evening of dinner and -- probably -- dancing."
"Dancing?" Leorio stopped in his tracks. Behind him, other people cursed at his holding up traffic and moved around him. Kurapika, for his part, had kept walking, stopping and turning once he realized Leorio had been left behind. "You never mentioned dancing."
"Well, of course there will be dancing. Leorio, we're going to a high-class restaurant called The *Gilded Platter*. Plus, the occasion isn't business; it's pleasure--"
"You know, you're about the only person I know who can actually *articulate* a semi-colon."
"--and with the rich, that means dancing is usually included." Kurapika turned on his heel and called over his shoulder, "Now, are you coming? You're blocking the sidewalk."
Leorio resumed his steady stride, brushing Kurapika with his arm as he caught up. "Well, I guess I'll have to work on my charms for tonight. They're a little out of practice. Though," he added thoughtfully, "even if I can't manage to get a lady to dance with me, there's always you. If you're going like that, no one will be able to tell the diff--oof!"
Kurapika dislodged his elbow from Leorio's side. "That was uncalled for. I haven't said *one word* about that stupid yellow-and-orange tie. Oh, wait."
"I like that tie! It's cheerful."
"It's *loud*. And over-decorated."
"You're just jealous." Leorio turned his nose up. "You can borrow it, you know. If you beg."
"No thanks." Kurapika glanced up at the underside of Leorio's chin. "You forgot to shave this morning. Do that before you go out, yes?"
"I didn't forget, I just figured that since I'd be shaving before I got dressed for tonight *anyway*... hey, do I get on your case about personal hygiene?"
"You don't have to; mine is impeccable."
"And anyway, who asked you? I don't have any plans to kiss *you* in the near future--"
"I don't kiss carpets."
"--and we weren't talking about shaving, we were talking about *clothes*. In particular, how many you need to buy."
"My colors and patterns have sentimental value."
"But I've *seen* you wear other things, and they looked good. Please tell me you really aren't wearing that out tonight?"
"Oh, calm down. I know you can never have enough of my company, but I came with you because I'm buying a new outfit, too."
"Oh. Good, then. I think I'm going to get a black suit. Black is always fashionable."
"Black is good," Kurapika conceded. "But don't get *anything* in brown."
"It would match my hair, though."
"Yes, and it would be very boring. Brown is boring. Practical for travel, but it generally doesn't impress anyone at parties."
"I had a friend once," Leorio began mournfully. "His name was Kurapika. He's dead now. Fashion ate him, and then it ate his clothes."
Kurapika stopped suddenly, and pulled Leorio out of the way and closer to the doors to a large building. "Here we are. This is the department store they were talking about."
"Bashou got his here, at any rate."
"What's it called?" Leorio craned his neck but didn't bother stepping back to look up and read the sign.
"Of course not. But that's what it ought to be called." Kurapika flicked his ear with a finger, making him look back down at the Kuruta. "Coming?" His phone beeped as he was pushing the doors open.
"Senritsu?" Leorio wondered, following his friend inside. As soon as the door shut behind him, he could feel the place sucking his money away. "I'll bet even the ties here cost a fortune."
"But they're probably better than the yellow one I hate," Kurapika quipped, the buttons on his phone beeping musically. "Senritsu has found herself a dress, and it is not pink."
"No! Is it yellow?"
"Not even. It's black."
"Oh." Leorio felt oddly disappointed. "Well. Black always works."
"I'm sure it's a very nice black, though."
"How many shades of black could there possibly be? Black is black."
"I meant the fabric. Knowing Neon, she might have taken Senritsu to the women's equivalent to this place."
"Must have taken a good chunk out of Senritsu's wallet," Leorio observed, lifting a price tag hanging from a pair of socks and dropping it in disgust. "Those ladies, you know, never stop with just a dress. Now they'll have to find shoes, a purse, jewelry, underwear--"
"Senritsu doesn't go overboard like that."
"But doesn't Neon? Yes, that's what I thought."
"May I help you, gentlemen?"
The tone could very well have meant, "Are you rich enough to be shopping here?" As one, Leorio and Kurapika turned to see who had spoken. It was one of the salesmen, of course, dressed in one of their finest three-pieces and groomed within an inch of his life. Even his *moustache* looked rich -- his *nametag* looked rich.
Leorio waved the man away casually. "Nah, we're fine. Just looking at the moment."
"Anything in particular that interests you? Perhaps I can make some suggestions?"
He could tell from the intense expression that this was the type that wouldn't go away until they goaded you into buying something expensive. So he decided to be rid of him quickly. "Actually, we'll just wander around until we see something that feels right." He jerked his thumb in Kurapika's direction. "This one's a cross-dresser. I'm trying to cure him, but I want to go slow. He's nervous."
Leorio grinned at the man's scandalized expression, which was all-too-quickly covered up with that impersonal politeness. He could feel Kurapika's glare, but was too busy enjoying the salesman's face to bother glancing at his friend's. He knew which glare it was, anyway: the I Want to Hurt You glare.
"Thanks for the offer, though," he added off-handedly, and took Kurapika's arm to lead him away.
"You're lucky I'm beyond making crude jokes." Kurapika yanked his arm free as soon as they were hidden among the racks of blazers.
"Oh, come on, you're never going to see him again, anyway. Unless," Leorio gasped, "the lifestyles of the rich have done more damage than I thought." He turned abruptly and seized Kurapika's shoulders, looking frantic. "Tell me you're only going to buy *one* insanely expensive suit and wear it more than once."
"Are you mad?" Kurapika asked wearing a half-smile. "Why, one of Nostrad's associates once wore the same suit at two parties and he was the subject of much gossip for a good while afterwards."
Leorio's face was a mask of mock horror. "Oh, god, they've taken you, too."
"The three-piece sets are over that way, it seems. Move, before that salesman starts stalking us."
"Do you think he's a stalker, too?" Leorio frowned. The only thing worse than an insistent salesperson was one that followed you all over the store. Leorio couldn't shop with employees watching his every move.
"Look there: a yellow suit. Is yellow in this season?"
Leorio eyed the sunny suit. It hurt his eyes. "Who would buy that?"
"Same types that buy yellow-and-orange ties, I imagine. You could wear the tie if you bought that suit."
"First you condemn it, then you encourage it. Make up your mind." Leorio scanned the complete three-piece suits hanging from their expensive hangers. A joyfully painted sign above them announced they were on sale. "*These* are on sale?" he sputtered, looking at another price tag. "Why am I going to this restaurant, again?"
"Because we're still in the city, and you're free, and Nostrad insisted you come along."
"I thought you didn't want your boss to know too much about your friends."
"I don't, really." Kurapika shrugged, releasing the sleeve he'd been examining. "But I didn't account for you just marching into our hotel."
"I only stay at the most posh hotels these days," Leorio chuckled. "Sorry, for what it's worth. These days I assume everything is fine. Maybe I shouldn't have just walked right up to you in the lobby."
"Oh, don't apologize. You'll wish you hadn't made yourself known once Nostrad starts goading you to share more about yourself. I think he's eager for some distraction of late. Perhaps that's why he was so eager for you to join us."
"Either that," Leorio laughed, "or he approves of you having a friend."
"You're being ridiculous," the blond scolded.
"Maybe. Oh, hey, look there." He pointed to another of the colored suits. "There's a red one for you."
"Leorio, I am not wearing a *red* suit."
"But blonds look good in red!"
"If I wear red, you wear yellow."
In the end, they each left with black suits. While predictable, the three-piece outfits were well-made, looked good, and were surprisingly comfortable.
"And expensive," Leorio muttered as they exited the store, scrutinizing his receipt. "Did we mention expensive?"
"You've mentioned it about fifteen times now." Kurapika didn't look ruffled as he stared at his own receipt. The Kuruta didn't indulge himself very often, and given his profession, it was likely that he wasn't hurting for money in any way.
"Well, at least we'll fit right in. We looked beyond rich when we tried them on." Leorio glanced at his watch. "And it's only ten o'clock. Perfect!" He reached out and grabbed Kurapika's arm, "Let's go," and started walking without waiting for an answer.
"Where are we going?" his friend asked over the crinkling of their bags.
"The suits didn't come with ties, so we have to buy some."
"We have ties," Kurapika pointed out.
"*Please*. You don't wear *old* ties with *new* suits."
"Well, we could go back--"
"No way. Their prices are just ridiculous." Leorio glanced down at the navy tie he was wearing. "We're going to a place I like. They're good, trust me. And they have a large selection."
"Fine," Kurapika agreed, "but mine is going to be black."
"What about red? I said you looked good in red."
"Well, maybe red."